2019 CD FEATURE
AMERICAN HIGHWAY (Plowboy Records).
KENTUCKY GENETICS FUEL BROWN HIGHWAY JOURNEY
“I've got a windshield view of it all / cruising up and down this old asphalt / on this American highway.” - American Highway - Marty Brown-Jon Tiven.
Kentuckian Marty Brown's return after a 23-year recording hiatus enabled him to recruit his namesake son Marty Jr as co-writer on the joyous I'm On A Roll.
It's one of 10 songs penned with co-producer Jon Tiven who also produced late stars B.B. King, Wilson Pickett and Waylon Jennings long before this disc was released on May 17.
Brown, 53, revisits values of hometown Maceo (population 413) near the Ohio River .
He proves small town nostalgia is his strong suit in his entrée title track and Kentucky Blues where he name-checks late bluegrass icon Bill Monroe.
Imagery has long been Brown's creative catalyst since he emerged from the bluegrass state in the eighties.
His first recording contract was with MCA Records .
He recorded three studio albums - High and Dry in 1991, Wild Kentucky Skies in 1993 and Cryin', Lovin', Leavin ' in 1994.
Marty earned critical acclaim, but only one single made the charts - It Must Be the Rain peaked at 74.
Brown moved to now defunct Hightone Records and released fourth studio disc, Here's To The Honky Tonks , in 1996.
He first kissed fame as writer of a plethora of hits for peers.
Marty penned frequent Australian tourists Brooks & Dunn hit If It Ain't Me If It Ain't You , Perfect Stranger's The Hits and William Michel Morgan 2016 honky-tonk eulogy I Pulled A Hank Last Night.
His images of Oklahoma oil and Kansas wheat fields fuel When I Stop Loving You (recorded by Trace Adkins) while portraits of sawed-off shotguns and coonskin caps adorned Tracy Byrd hit I'm From The Country.
“That song built my house,” Brown revealed recently.
“That's my bread and butter.”
After his MCA deal expired he concentrated on his song-writing by living in Franklin , Kentucky , and driving into Nashville for writing sessions.
“That way I could still be close to Nashville , my wife Shellie could still teach and we could live in the country,” Brown explained.
“I would come home and play my wife demo tapes and I'd say, ‘Blake would sound good singing that song,' and she would say, ‘Well, you sound good singing that!'”
One fateful day Shellie surprised him by driving him to a Nashville audition for America's Got Talent .
She signed Marty up for the talent show without him knowing.
“It's' time for America to hear him sing,” Shellie confessed.
Brown was elated.
“Johnny Cash had June Carter, Loretta Lynn had Mooney and I've got Shellie,” Brown admitted.
“Without her, I wouldn't be sitting here. She saved me in every way a man can be saved and every way a man can be loved.”
In 2013 Brown's version of Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love earned more than 11 million views on YouTube and reached Top 10 on America's Got Talent .
He later signed with Dreamlined Entertainment and released Make You Feel My Love as a single in 2016.
It helped land him his Plowboy deal.
“I was on Highway 100, just driving and listening to music,” Brown says of his title track.
“I started thinking of all these pictures, like Norman Rockwell paintings. I wrote it about going down country roads and seeing old men sitting on porches.”
Soon after its recording he rewrote the song to include more imagery of cityscapes to widen the song's appeal to a broader audience.
Brown was recently honoured with a BMI Million-Air award, commemorating five million radio plays of I'm From The Country .
He says whether he is writing songs for others or singing them himself, the focus is always on the music.
“When I was on MCA, I was fresh out of Kentucky and I didn't know anybody. I just had my guitar and me, and it's still that way. But if the song is strong, it can cut through anything.”
“A couple of umbrella lovers / our hearts were made for days like this / a couple of umbrella lovers caught in a kiss." - Umbrella Lovers - Marty Brown-Jon Tiven.
Brown's wife Shellie shines as the pub waitress fortifying Marty with liquid refreshment as he composes the song, guitar in hand.
In contrast to the song's lyrics, there's not a drop of rain, but plenty of umbrellas.
Marty admits one of the large props even blew away during filming.
"Some fishermen grabbed it as it tumbled down the beach," Brown recalls.
"Said it was the only thing they'd caught all day. That was a bit of luck for us for sure."
Brown says the song lives up to its seasonal theme.
"It's a springtime song. I can see this couple in the big city," Brown explained.
"They're walking in the rain and they don't care. They've got an umbrella but they don't even care if they're getting wet. They don't care about nothing or nobody because they're in love, and what brings them together is this umbrella. They're umbrella lovers. It's one of my favorite songs on the record as a writer."
Brown covers a wide landscape on his new album.
He explores road trip woes and joys of a Korean war survivor in Casino Winnebago.
Brown also exploits a baseball analogy for chasing dreams despite life's challenges in Right Out Of Left Field .
The singer ignites a vast contrast with his hook heavy ditty Shaking All Over The World followed by pathos primed warnings about risks of unbridled hedonism in When The Blues Come Around.
VELVET CHAINS UNTIED
“Velvet chains holding me here / velvet chains pulling me near / oh, I don't want to go / I don't want to say goodbye.” - Velvet Chains - Marty Brown-Jon Tiven.
“My dad wanted to be a superstar like Johnny Cash. My mum sang like Loretta Lynn,” Marty recalled.
Brown also enjoyed a four-episode guest hosting run on Country Classics TV show on April 1, April 8, April 15 and April 22.
The weekly half-hour program is filmed at the Willie Nelson & Friends Museum in Nashville and features interviews and music videos from classic country artists like George Strait , Willie Nelson, Pam Tillis, George Jones and Tanya Tucker.
Country Classics airs in the U.S. on Heartland TV and The Family Channel , and on Country TV (New Zealand), Keep It Country (UK) and Cayman 27 (Cayman Islands).
"These tapings were a blast," Brown recalled.
"Some cool people have hosted before, including my buddies Larry Stewart of Restless Heart , Wade Hayes, Aaron Tippin and Lorrie Morgan."